|Worzel Gummidge character|
|First appearance||Worzel Gummidge
(by Barbara Euphan Todd, 1936) (Book)
|Last appearance||The Bestest Scarecrow
(Worzel Gummidge Down Under, 1989) (TV)
|Created by||Barbara Euphan Todd|
|Portrayed by||Jon Pertwee latest|
Worzel Gummidge is a walking, talking scarecrow character in British children's fiction who originally appeared in a series of books by the English novelist Barbara Euphan Todd. It was the first story book published by Puffin Books.
The books were adapted for radio and television a number of times, most successfully with former Doctor Who actor Jon Pertwee taking the lead role from 1979 to 1981 in the ITV series Worzel Gummidge, originally produced in the UK (this series was ranked among the top 50 greatest British children's programmes) and later in New Zealand (1987 - 1989). For the TV series Gummidge had a set of interchangeable turnip, mangelwurzel and swede heads, each of which suited a particular occasion or endowed him with a specific skill.
Worzel Gummidge was a scarecrow that could come to life on Scatterbrook Farm. Worzel stood in ten acre field. He befriended John and Susan who came to stay during the School holidays on the Braithwaites Farm. Worzel would normally land John and Susan into trouble when he was being mischievous, as he would go into a sulk and become a normal lifeless scarecrow. This would lead others to blame the two children for the trouble Worzel caused.
The Worzel Gummidge books differ from the Television adaption. One difference being that in the books Worzel was married to Earthy Mangold. In the first book Aunt Sally (his Femme fatale in the TV series) is only mentioned in one chapter and the character is an antagonistic bully to Worzel. For the Television adaption, Worzel had a collection of interchangeable heads. In the books, the maker of Worzel Gummidge and other scarecrows is not named as the Crowman, but is described as mysterious creator like figure.
- Worzel Gummidge (1936)
- Worzel Gummidge Again (1937)
- More About Worzel Gummidge (1938)
- Worzel Gummidge And Saucy Nancy (1947)
- Worzel Gummidge Takes A Holiday (1949)
- Earthy Mangold And Worzel Gummidge (1954)
- Worzel Gummidge And The Railway Scarecrows (1955)
- Worzel Gummidge At The Circus (1956)
- Worzel Gummidge And The Treasure Ship (1958)
- Detective Worzel Gummidge (1963)
The first paperback version of the first book, released in 1941, has the distinction of being the first story book published by the famous children's imprint Puffin.
The first broadcast with Worzel was before World War II on the BBC's Children's Hour. By 1946, Worzel was played by veteran radio actor Philip Wade, John by John Clark, Susan by Rosamund Barnes, and Earthy Mangold by Mabel Constanduros. Later, Worzel was played by Denis Folwell, who went on to play Jack Archer in the long-running BBC radio 4 soap opera The Archers.
The character first appeared on television in 1953 in a four-part series.
In July 1967 five Worzel Gummidge stories were read on Jackanory by Gordon Rollings. Worzel Gummidge Again was read in November 1974 (with one story tying in with Guy Fawkes Night) by Geoffrey Bayldon, later to appear in the 1979-81 TV series.
1979-81 television series
Southern Television's production for ITV was written by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, and starred Jon Pertwee as Worzel, with Una Stubbs as Aunt Sally, a life-size fairground doll and Worzel's femme fatale. This was a significant change from the original books, where Aunt Sally is, in fact, Worzel's aunt. The Crowman, who made Worzel and some of his other scarecrow friends, was played by Geoffrey Bayldon, better known for his starring role as the title character of Catweazle. Bill Maynard also appeared as a scarecrow called Sergeant Beetroot.
Worzel Gummidge Down Under
Television New Zealand and Channel 4 (UK) co-funded a follow-up series that ran for two seasons in 1987 and 1989, with Worzel Gummidge and Aunt Sally, still played by Pertwee and Stubbs, relocated to New Zealand.